And I Didn’t Even Mention Viagra

frolicnaked

Proper positioning.

For my last several pelvic examinations, this has not meant scooching farther down so my bum practically hung over the end of the exam table. Even though my reproductive organs were undergoing the exam, the "positioning" I speak of had much more to do with my feet.

Proper positioning.

For my last several pelvic examinations, this has not meant scooching farther down so my bum practically hung over the end of the exam table. Even though my reproductive organs were undergoing the exam, the "positioning" I speak of had much more to do with my feet.

Or rather, the stirrups.

Covering the stirrups at my last exam were what I can only describe as little "booties" advertising Valtrex. These particular booties were new to me, but the general concept was not. I can also recall booties for Yasmin, Premarin, Seasonique, and Lybrel, though not necessarily in that order.

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At this very moment, other windows and other tabs — which admittedly contains one tab of online shopping — show me ads for Levitra, Cymbalta, and Lyrica.

I haven’t even turned on the TV.

Still, it would seem that NPR is right: drug ads of the direct-to-consumer variety now abound. And the result on our health care system — including cost — is steep:

Prescription drug spending is the third most expensive cost in our health care system. And spending seems to grow larger every year. Just last year, the average American got 12 prescriptions a year, as compared with 1992, when Americans got an average of seven prescriptions. In a decade and a half, the use of prescription medication went up 71 percent. This has added about $180 billion to our medical spending.

 

The salient question here is, I think, the same as it’s been before: to what purpose? What does this increased patient-targeted advertising actually do for us?

If it’s properly treating or managing conditions and improving quality of life for people, then I’ll the the first to say "fuck it" to however much money is being spent. It’s hard to argue with dollars spent making people healthier or making their lives more livable.

That said, given how many other types of advertising encourage people to buy and use products they don’t actually need, it’s probably not any great leap to suggest that increased prescription ads — as well as increased prescription use — result in some level of waste.

Take this, from Julie Donohue, a professor of public health quoted in the NPR story:

"Something like a third of consumers who’ve seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor about it…. About two-thirds of those have asked for a prescription. And the majority of people who ask for a prescription have that request honored."

 

Then look at the number of Internet and bootie ads I happen to remember right now. If I did ask, how many of those are costs that are worthwhile or medications I need?

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